Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Japan’s Military Buildup to Counter China’s Expansion

Shinzo Abe

Russia Today: ‘Japan, US struggle to contain China at any cost’

Will Japan amend article 9 of its constitution to allow for military buildup to counter a rising People’s Republic of China? Shinzo Abe’s government argues peace, critics say it’s all about arms sales

Tensions in southeast Asia have remained as territorial disputes over possessions such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and China’s reported construction of man-made islands in the Pacific to bolster its claims have done little to calm the major regional powers. China, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea have all staked various territorial claims in the Pacific, but few have gone to the lengths the PRC has to establish effective control.

Territorial disputes in east Asia and Japanese military buildup

These actions on Beijing’s part have ignited debates in Tokyo over whether Japan’s nominally pacifist constitution, particularly article 9, is unable to address modern circumstances. Critics of the Shinzo Abe government point to Japan’s increased desire to sell arms to partners in the region as the main impetus for the Liberal Democrats’ proposed reforms, calling the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands disputes mere conveniences of international affairs. A military expansion in east Asia to counter a rising China and South Korea does explain Japan’s increasing efforts towards military buildup. While it is likely that Japan will re-emerge as a military power in some form, what shape that military force will take is yet undetermined.